WASHINGTON - A conservative researcher's 2009 dissertation, which argued that Hispanic immigrants to the U.S. have substantially lower IQs than whites, put one of the biggest opponents to an immigration reform bill in Congress on the defensive on Wednesday.
The dissertation by Jason Richwine, then a Ph.D. candidate at Harvard University, argues that "[n]o one knows whether Hispanics will ever reach IQ parity with whites, but the prediction that new Hispanic immigrants will have low-IQ children and grandchildren is difficult to argue against. From the perspective of Americans alive today, the low average IQ of Hispanics is effectively permanent."
The Washington Post first reported on Richwine's dissertation on Wednesday morning.
Richwine is now a quantitative analyst at The Heritage Foundation, and he was listed as a co-author on a paper the foundation released this week chronicling the potential economic costs of the the immigration bill currently being considered in the Senate.
Heritage and its president, former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), are leading the charge against the Senate proposal. But the foundation worked to distance itself from Richwine Wednesday in response to the dissertation, trying to salvage the reputation of the paper that Richwine co-authored with Robert Rector, a senior research fellow at Heritage.
"We believe that every person is created equal and that everyone should have equal opportunity to reach the ladder of success and climb as high as they can dream," Heritage said in a statement released by spokesman Mike Gonzalez.
Richwine was not at Heritage when he wrote the paper. In the acknowledgments section of his dissertation, he thanked the American Enterprise Institute, another conservative think tank in Washington, "for its generous support, without which this dissertation could not have been completed."
Richwine was a dissertation fellow at AEI prior to coming to Heritage in 2010, according to his Heritage bio.
"We welcome a rigorous, fact-based debate on the data, methodology, and conclusions of the Heritage study on the cost of amnesty. Instead, some have pointed to a Harvard dissertation written by Dr. Jason Richwine," Heritage said in its statement. "Dr. Richwine did not shape the methodology or the policy recommendations in the Heritage paper; he provided quantitative support to lead author Robert Rector. The dissertation was written while Dr. Richwine was a student at Harvard, supervised and approved by a committee of respected scholars."
"The Harvard paper is not a work product of The Heritage Foundation. Its findings do not reflect the positions of The Heritage Foundation or the conclusions of our study on the cost of amnesty to U.S. taxpayers, as race and ethnicity are not part of Heritage immigration policy recommendations," Heritage said in its statement.
Richwine said lower IQs among Hispanics in the U.S. were caused in part by genetics, though he said that "the extent of [genetic] impact is hard to determine."
On page 88 of his dissertation, Richwine included a section on "the growing Hispanic underclass." Heritage's paper takes the position that undocumented immigrants who are currently in the country would be a burden on the U.S. safety net and welfare programs if they were to be given citizenship.
An underclass, Richwine wrote, is "a socially isolated group of people for whom crime, welfare, labor force dropout, and illegitimacy are normal aspects of life." He argues that his data shows that "Hispanic immigrants come [to the U.S.] to work, but their children's labor force participation slips considerably."
"Superior performance on basic economic indicators is to be expected from later generations, who go to American schools, learn English, and become better acquainted with the culture," Richwine wrote in the dissertation. "Despite built-in advantages, too many Hispanic natives are not adhering to standards of behavior that separate middle and working class neighborhoods from the barrio."
"There can be little dispute that post 1965-immigration has brought a larger and increasingly visible Hispanic underclass to the United States, yet the underlying reasons for its existence cannot be understood without considering IQ," Richwine wrote.
Richwine's argument was that lower-IQ Hispanics are the ones who have come to the U.S., while Hispanics with higher IQs have remained in their countries of origin because they have better employment and financial prospects. The result is a situation in the U.S. where children of first-generation immigrants fall behind in U.S. schools and develop an anti-social attitude toward school work, he argued.
Lower-IQ individuals, Richwine also wrote, are more likely to accept government handouts.
"When given the choice between a paycheck from a low-paying job and a welfare check, most intelligent people would realize that the welfare check offers them no potential for advancement. Low-IQ people do not internalize that fact nearly as well," he wrote.
Richwine's full 166-page paper has not been posted online until now.
Read the full paper here: